by Stella Washines

Beaded bags have been made and treasured by Yakamas since Europeans starting trading with our people. Today we use them as honoring gifts in naming, memorial, or other ceremonies.

This bag was made to honor the spirit of Yakama women. Umatilla elder, Edith McCloud, shared that “a woman never dies.” Through her work and her words she lives on in the hearts of her people.

As each bead is strung and sewn to canvas, I hope my grandmothers, Elsie Pinkham and Stella Wynaco, live on through my work and my words for my children.


The fully beaded side depicts elderly women in wing dress and scarf. 

The cross is intended to signify spirituality. Elders respected all religions while maintaining their own beliefs and teachings.

The brain-tanned elk side is used to portray the stamina of Mother Earth. She gives the daughters of the Yakama a world to live in. The women gather roots in early spring, pick berries in late summer, dry fish during salmon runs, raise their children, and sometimes celebrate in dance at gatherings. Eventually, the blessed become elders.